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Alaska..a personal view on what was and what could be

November 30, 2013

IMG_0702She had just loaded the last of the boxes into the waiting trailer but she still could not bring herself to walk out the door for the last time. She has lived here for almost 20 years and had built this house with her own hands on land that two decades ago was nothing but woods. Over the years her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren have spent time with her here in her home. Years ago her mother had moved here and spent the last years of her life within these now silent walls. Her home like most of us holds memories of both laughter and tears, but unlike us she is now forced by the government to leave.

How can people over 500 miles away unthinkably effect the lives of so many so far away? No she is not alone in the loss of her home, many other people living out here in the wilderness will almost overnight become homeless. From old trappers living on their land for more than half a century to families who found a piece of Alaska they thought they could afford are now without a roof over their heads. All because people in a town so far away think they found a way to make more money.

In 2005 the Fairbanks North Star borough decided it wanted to expand its boundaries all the way to the Yukon river. In doing so they saw a way to increase their tax base to include two additional pump stations and maybe even some new gold mines. They did not for a second consider how this would effect the hundreds of families that lived within that area. People who could not afford to live within the city and barely made it month to month out here in the woods, would never be able to afford a tax on their property and homes.

A few made this problem known by going on television and the radio and their plight was met with understanding by the general public. A public that for years have shouldered the heavy weight of property taxes understood that with very little income these people would gain nothing and loose everything. The groundswell became so powerful that the borough tabled the proposal because they knew they would loose when put to a vote. It was a large victory for those who chose to live away from civilization, but is now once again threatened.

Nenana, a small town, (about 500+ people), in looking for a way to increase their tax base, (ie more money in the city coffers), decided it would be beneficial to become a borough. And not a small one but one hundreds of square miles in size that would wrap around the Fairbanks North Star borough and once again reach out to the Yukon river. The Nenana government only sees the increase in tax revenue from the additional villages of: Minto, Manley Hot Springs, Tanana and Rampart. Along with that add the new gold mines around Livengood, the pump stations and the biggest prize of all the proposed gas pipe line. Nenana like Fairbanks did not even consider the thousands of people who will not be able to afford to pay a property tax all they see once again is bigger bank accounts for Nenana.

As she wiped away the tears the truck made the last turn out of her driveway
  and now she joined the hundreds of others
alone and homeless in the Alaskan wilderness.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon permalink
    December 1, 2013 12:01 am

    You say “how can they think”. Well they not only don’t think, they don’t care. We’ve all become like serfs in a kingdom. Some people have their homes paid for & think they own them. News flash, you never really own your house. Try not paying your property taxes for awhile & see who owns your house.
    Control, control.
    Pete I sent you an email about a fictional prediction about why the gov’t is buying up the ammunition which may not be so fictional, just like this posting. Maybe Joe Vogler had a valid point. Reminds me of the land grab in the Carter administration of expanding the national parks.

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  2. December 1, 2013 12:46 am

    I love the way you write. It’s heart wrenching. I’m not sure what happened to your wife…either I can’t remember from a past blog or I never knew because I hadn’t read it. But it doesn’t matter because the heart of your post is that you lead a difficult life financially to survive in one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever seen. Money and power has always controlled unfortunately, and that’s why this year our family donated our Christmas gift money to the Philippine disaster. The increased population in the world, requires more healthcare, more services, more everything. I really think we will ultimately population control. But sshhh…don’t tell anyone. It’s not a popular view!

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  3. December 1, 2013 2:56 am

    It is not a wilderness or a place of freedom, is it? I am sorry for her. Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. December 1, 2013 3:39 am

    Often in my life I’ve contemplated what it would take to disappear. I see on Alaska reality television a man who did it in the Chandalar area who is now plastered over every watching television screen because he was okay with being discovered. No matter where you go, somebody will find you. Somebody will discover where you are and tell. We may as well be the USSR.

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  5. liz permalink
    December 1, 2013 11:48 am

    This is no joke, this is what it will be like in the not to far future, is how it is a lot in the lower 48, a lot of people have lost homes, a lot of people live on the street, homeless…it is because people do not think of others, do not care when they do think, because they want that all elusive $

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  6. December 1, 2013 1:27 pm

    2010 census lists 378 people in Nenana. Yet what they are determined to do will affect a lot of people that choose not to live under the thumb of government. Joe Vogler had it very right and I still miss him. When I first met him, I thought he was a bit extreme, but as I paid attention, I found that everything he said became fact a couple of years later. He was the smartest man I have even had the pleasure to know and it was amazing doing research with him at the Law Library.

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  7. December 5, 2013 4:35 pm

    Of course, as she leaves, she stops to light a candle in Remembrance. She does the same as she goes by each of the homes now standing empty on this place where everyone found a home. as she reaches the driveway, she has to smile, a sad little smile as the candle finally reaches the cache of gasoline under each of the buildings. The bastards may have evicted her, but they won’t get much pleasure from it.

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  8. December 12, 2013 9:19 am

    The hunters and the herdsmen lost out to the farmers taming the land; the farmers were overtaken by growing cities in which the early arrivals have been forced out by gentrification…
    They call it progress and I guess it is for humanity in general but its always paid for at the individual level where “nothing’s free’ operates. Life’s a bitch, and then you die as the saying puts it. I guess that’s why all those churches need Heaven to sell…

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  9. December 26, 2013 12:45 am

    Just an absolutely unacceptable situation! The money grubbing politicians could still have their wealth if they offered the people in these situations an exemption from the borough taxes. This would hardly impact their revenues but it certainly would allow people who helped make Alaska what it is today to continue to live as they’ve grown accustomed. Sadly, in politics money talks and there’s power in numbers with money. The people you so poignantly write about have neither and hence have little hope of being heard…and that’s just not right!

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